MONDAY, 18 MARCH 2013
PHILIPSBURG–St. Maarten “is on its way to create” a national committee on money-laundering to advise government on anti-money-laundering and combating financing terrorism (AML/CFT) measures necessary to be compliant with the Financial Action Taskforce (FATF) recommendations.
The formation of this committee was announced by government over a year ago, but based on the Caribbean FATF’s Mutual Evaluation Report of January 2013 it is still not in place.
According to the report, the national committee will be expected to handle the consultation process concerning review of draft legislation, rules and regulations. As well, it is expected to monitor and co-ordinate the various agencies’ efforts to achieve full compliance with the CFATF recommendations.
According to CFATF, it is expected that the national committee will comprise representatives of the Office of the Attorney-General, the Tax Office, the Justice Department, the Legal Department, the Foreign Relations Organisation, the Central Bank of Curaçao and St. Maarten, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Judicial Affairs and the private sector’s representative body St. Maarten Bankers Association (SBA).
The report was only recently released by the CFATF in the public domain. Government has been in possession of the report since earlier in the year.
On combating financial terrorism, the report found that Jihad and/or the financing of Jihad-related terrorism “have not been observed in St. Maarten.” Jihad-related terrorism is defined as being linked to extremist religious activities, in general the Muslim religion, while non-Jihad-related terrorism is defined as violent activities mainly linked to different political beliefs and/or points of view.
The only mention of non-Jihad-related activities has been potential participation by Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) in drug-trafficking via the island, the report cited. “Locally, no concrete activities have been detected. (Source: Threat Assessment report NCTb, May 2008).”
The national committee on money-laundering, as well as further strengthening the Financial Intelligence Unit MOT, are among the vital areas government must address to comply with the 15 recommendations on which the country is lagging, based on a recent mutual evaluation.
Government has until May 2013 to respond to CFATF on how it intends to comply with the 15 recommendations and to present an action plan.
The Central Bank also needs to fine-tune some of its procedures and government needs to tweak laws to help with compliance.
CFATF and the United Nations Security Council have put together 40 recommendations and nine core recommendations for every country to carry out to combat financial crime, terrorism and money-laundering.